Posts Tagged ‘#files’

Scrubbing data

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis April 24th, 2012

Did you know that deleted files aren’t REALLY deleted?  Normally, even if you remove a file from the Recycle Bin in Windows, it only removes the first bit of the file, the rest stays intact.  So if you’re getting rid of an old PC, for example, a savvy user can pull up things you intended to delete.  The answer?  File Scrubbing.  This is a method of going through the free space on your drive and re-writing it several times with 1’s and 0’s.  I found a great, free, utility that does this called Summit HDScrubber.  You can get it here.  Of course, you also need to watch out for hidden files, and other stuff.  Before you scrub, remove your Windows account and the data in it.  If you’re just going to throw the PC away, you can always just remove and pound the hard drive with a hammer.  :-)

Searching Windows

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis April 13th, 2012

Trying to find something in Windows 7?  Scratching your head?  No results?  You’re not alone.  Windows XP had a great tool called the “Search Companion” that could find ANYTHING.  In particular, it had the ability to search EVERY FILE for stuff INSIDE it.  So if you needed to find any file with the word giraffe, for example, it was a few clicks away.  Granted, it might take it all day to perform such an exhaustive search, but it could do it with the patience of, um, a Computer.  Things changed when Google Desktop came along.  The new trend was to INDEX everything beforehand, so that searches were very quick.  Microsoft followed suit with their own search gizmo, and the race was on.  These programs go through all your files while you do other things, and create a list of your stuff, and keywords inside.  And therein lies the problem:  a keyword is usually found in the dictionary.  But what if you need to find the number 12345?  Sorry, that’s not indexed.  This is the problem with the Windows 7 search tool.  Besides being clutzy to use, they have taken away the ability to search for “strings” within files.  Supposedly you can type content:”STRING” in the search box to accomplish this, but I tested it and it failed for a random 5 letters/numbers within an Excel file.  Sometimes with Microsoft it’s One step forward, Two steps back.  This is a terrible search tool.  Once again I’d like to say “IF IT AIN’T BROKE DON’T FIX IT”.  Meanwhile, I found some nifty search tools;  1) for general searches of text within files Windows GREP (after the UNIX GREP command) is easy-to-use software that’s quite powerful.  unfortunately it has a hard time with the latest office formats, in particular Excel XLSX files. I believe it could do it, but you have to tell it the column layout of your spreadsheet.  UGH.  Instead, I recommend 2) IceTeaReplacer.  I was able to find my random string within seconds of using this tool, and had the option of replacing it if I wanted.  Very Nice!

Office Backup

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis November 23rd, 2011

I’ve discussed lots of ways to protect your data, but there’s one I missed.  If you have a lot of Word, Excel, or Office documents, there’s a slick feature in Office that you can use.  I’ve already told you about the Outlook add-on that will back up your email file, but this is about the OTHER parts of Office.  If you look at the options for Word, Excel, etc. in the SAVE section there is an option to save AutoRecover info every X minutes.  You can decide how often it does this.    The same section allows you to make local copies if you are using a network storage location.  These options can help a lot if you lose your latest draft for some reason.  Here’s a complete rundown on retrieval options for Office 2007 on the Microsoft site.

Deleted files

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis November 16th, 2011

Sometimes we make mistakes.  It’s pretty easy to accidentally delete a file.  Of course, windows can help right away if you check your Recycle Bin (or Deleted Items in email).  But what if those are gone, too?  This is one really good reason to BACK UP.  But if you don’t have a backup, what then?  TURN OFF YOUR PC and CALL a PROFESSIONAL.  We have tools that allow us to find and restore deleted files, but the longer you run Windows, the less likely we’d be able to get it back.  See, when a file is deleted, just the first part of it is lopped off.  The rest remains intact until it’s written over.  The longer you run Windows, the more likely that space will get written over.  Note that there are forensics tools that the FBI and other labs use that can retrieve many layers of the magnetic writes.  It’s a lengthy and sophisticated (thus Expensive) process though.  If you WANT to totally remove sensitive files, then use a software SCRUBBER.  It erases, completely, and many times so that this type of retrieval is much more difficult if not impossible.

Windows Repair

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis July 3rd, 2011

Win 7 BackupBack in the good ol’ days of Windows XP, we could often fix software issues by booting from the Windows disk, and running a repair.  It was successful about 90% of the time when a PC wouldn’t boot from file damage.  Unfortunately the only repair available in Vista or Win 7 is if you create a repair disk from the Backup and Restore section.  There is no longer a way to reinstall unbootable Windows from the installation disk (such that it’s exactly the way you had it before).  You can also create a System Image here, and set up regular backups.  Given these limited options for fixing your software if it breaks, you should do ALL THREE.  It will help you (or your technician) get you back up and running if you have trouble.  Note that the Repair disk set will likely require 2 DVD-R disks.  There are other options for system images that I’ll discuss next time.

Sync or swim

Helpful Hints | Posted by Dennis June 18th, 2011

Sometimes we don’t just need to back up our stuff, we need to synchronize two sets (aka Sync).  This can be really handy in a lot of cases.  I use a sync tool to keep a copy of all my software tools and doc’s on a memory stick.  Any time I need my stuff, it’s on my main computer, but it’s also in my pocket wherever I go.  I can make changes to EITHER SET, and my sync tool makes sure that both copies are updated.  I’ve tried a lot of the sync gizmos, but the one I like the best is called Allway Sync.  It’s free for limited use, and has a TON of options to automate the process.

SD Cards

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis May 10th, 2011

Cameras and other devices have a variety of memory cards available.  The most popular standard is SD, but there are three sizes/packages available in this type; Standard, mini, and micro SD.  There are adapters for the smaller ones so you can read them in standard SD slots.  Be aware that some of the newer, large capacity cards won’t read in older slots.  Also, any time you get a new one you should FORMAT THE CARD IN THE DEVICE YOU WANT TO USE IT IN.  (your camera, for example).  This can save you from having file problems later on.  I’ve rescued photos several times for panicked customers whose photos seemed to suddenly DISAPPEAR.  They were still there, but some pieces were scrambled.  My favorite tool for this scenario is called Flash File Recovery from Panterasoft.  So far (for me) it’s had about a 90% success rate in recovering lost photos.